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This review is taken from PN Review 122, Volume 24 Number 6, July - August 1998.


'Buried, 'ancestral', 'decoded', 'invisible', 'mute': the adjectives Andrew Jordan has used in the titles of his books of poems indicate his persistent concern with the hidden, the repressed, that which lies under. Jordan is a 'poet of place', but not in a conventional way. He writes from passionate knowledge of southern England, and creates a palpable and luminous sense of specific landscapes and places, such as Winchester and Southampton. But Jordan is anti-picturesque; he does not depict appearances but the forces that shape them, and the possibilities they contain. His subject is the human mind, which constructs prisons for being, and has the capacity to destroy them. He is as far from sentimental regionalism as are Roy Fisher or John Riley or the Geoffrey Hill of Mercian Hymns. He has a political imagination, a religious sensibility hostile to established religion, and, like the poets named above, he has an idea of 'England' that subverts the stereotypes, and writes of self and nation and society in the spirit of William Blake.

Unlike many English poets, Jordan risks taking on an intellectual role, and articulates his ideas with lucidity and wit. He uses postmodernist terms for his own purposes, rather than allowing himself to be used by them, as may be seen in 'A Nonist Manifesto' (Angel Exhaust 15). There, he proposes 'That all myths of place must be exposed'. The project is libertarian, as in Blake; and in the poems in The Mute Bride it takes the form ...

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